XIII

Friday the 13th.

 
I have a tattoo on my hipbone of the number 13 in Roman numerals, and I hate it.
 
Even though it’s often covered up by my underwear and clothes, I can literally feel it burning into my skin, branded there like a cattle mark.
 
Everyone thinks 13 is my favourite number, but that’s actually far from the truth. Do you know why I chose 13? It actually stands for 1/3/13 — January 3, 2013.
 
Yes. You may have realized by now.
 
The day Lucien…killed himself.
 
This is going to be one long, fucked-up post, so you may not want to continue reading at all. And I wouldn’t blame you.
 
***
January 22, 2013
 
You know when you’re trying to suppress your feelings for so long that it just hurts you, emotionally and physically, when they finally break out to the surface?
 
I used to have a game that I played with myself. Whenever I felt something strange, like sadness or anger or fear, I would ask myself “How long can you keep it down?” And then, when I couldn’t anymore, I would ask myself, “Why do you think you’re angry? Is it a normal reaction?” And if it wasn’t, I could make the decision to either deal with it or try to keep suppressing it. 
 
That’s hard to do when you’re dealing with suicide.
 
I know you’ve been threatening to do it for a long time now, and I’m sorry I never took you seriously enough. 
 
I loved you,  you know. You may have been a pain in the neck, but I needed you and your love and adoration. You were one of the only people I could tell the truth to, without being afraid of judgment. I could count on you to laugh with me. 
 
When you sent me that message, I thought you were joking. I didn’t think any more of it and I went to bed, but then your brother called me in the middle of the night. He was curiously emotionless when he told me that you took your life.
 
I wasn’t emotionless. I wasn’t calm. I started hyperventilating and I cried my eyes out. I was screaming so loud, I was so angry.
 
Fuck you, seriously. 
 
He wanted me to know if I could do your eulogy.
 
I wonder if they’d ask me if they knew that I was one of the main causes of your suicide.
 
I’ve been trying to write you a eulogy but words won’t come. Yesterday, I wrote a story for you. It was fiction, but parts of it were true. How you told me that I wasn’t strong enough to love. When you threatened to kill yourself if I didn’t love you back.
 
They say that writing does not resurrect. Writing buries. I hope that’s true, because I want to bury you and your influence and everything you’ve ever said and done. It hurts too much to remember you.
 
You didn’t have to die, dammit. I know it sucks that i’m pissed off at a dead person, but you didn’t have to go and off yourself. 
 
I can’t do it anymore. 
 
Remember when I used to do these disappearing acts when I got into trouble or if I felt that I needed to be alone? Sometimes you’d come along, if you weren’t my problem, and we’d check into these suspicious-looking hotels and just lie in bed and order room service and talk.
 
I miss that boy. I don’t like the boy you became after you decided you were in love with me. 
 
Now, I could disappear and no one would even notice.
 
I’m going to disappear one more time, but the difference is that this time, there will be no one to call my phone every hour demanding where on earth I am. There will be no one to text me during the random hours of the night to share an interesting quote or a funny joke. There will be no one to call me over the phone and sing me to sleep, no one to tackle me and run around carrying me over his shoulder.
 
Now you’re gone and, in a sense, I feel like I should be gone too.
 
I’m sorry. I really am.
 
Love, your Jen.
 
***
September 10, 2014
 
My Lucien was a boy with skin pale as candle wax, lips as red as bruised cherries, hair dark as night and crystalline eyes like a brewing storm. His voice was quiet yet commanding, and the way he looked at you made you hypnotized – it was as if he was stripping away all your superficial layers and gazing down at your soul.
 
He had artist’s hands with long, slender fingers that would tangle in my hair whenever he whispered in my ear or kissed me. I still remember how his long eyelashes would flutter against my forehead, how he smelled like mint and musk, how he tasted like the gum he always used to chew to stop himself from biting his lips until they bled.
 
He was mine, all mine – until Death decided that he deserved my Lucien more than I did, so he took him.
 
And then I was alone.
 
It wasn’t easy being alone after him. I tried to fill in the gap with people I didn’t love and substances my body didn’t need, but the downward spiral of self-hate and self-destruction was too seductive to pass up. 
 
Sometimes I still dream of him and the last words he said, and I dream of how I could have made the situation end differently. But I always wake up, and the same crushing feeling makes it impossible for my lungs to draw in air, and I shake and cry and wish for the thousandth time that it was me who was dead instead.
 
But now…
 
Now I have to move on with my life.
 
I still love you, believe me. But you’re gone and he’s here and I think he needs me more than the ghost of your memory does. 
 
Will you allow me to be with him?
 
Will you let my heart go and allow me to love again?
 
***
 
October 29, 2014
 
My phone is always on silent mode, because I hate waking up in the middle of the night.
 
It always makes me so scared, because of that phone call I got one year ago – a detached and disembodied voice, telling me that Lucien has killed himself.
 
I suppose I forgot to fix my settings last night before bed, because at two AM, I heard Dragonforce’s Cry Thunder blaring near my pillow.
 
Unregistered number calling.
 
“Hello?”
 
“Hello, kitten.”
 
My heart stopped. For a moment, I thought it was Lucien calling. “Daniel,” I said, feeling my pulse quicken.
 
“How have you been?”
 
“Good. Is there anything wrong?”
 
He laughed. He sounded so much like Luc that it made me shiver. “No, I was just reading in bed when I suddenly thought of you. And I really want to know how you’re doing. You kind of disappeared after…you know.”
 
“After he died,” I said softly.
 
“Yes. We miss you, you know. You don’t have to stay away. You’re always welcome here.”
 
I started crying silently, my hands trembling. Daniel must have known, because his voice cracked when he spoke again.
 
“You miss him, don’t you?”
 
“Yes,” I whispered. “I miss him very, very much. And, Daniel…”
 
“What is it?”
 
I felt sick, but I needed to get it out. “It’s my fault.”
 
“What?”
 
“It’s my fault Lucien killed himself.”
 
I heard him sigh at the other end of the line. “No, kitten. It’s not your fault. He was very, very depressed even before you were together.”
 
“He told me,” I protested. “He told me that he would kill himself if I didn’t love him back.”
 
“Jen – “
 
“No! Listen to me.” I was feeling so nauseous but I was on a roll and I needed to get everything out.
“He was trying to call me that night, but I was too busy to answer so I ignored him. So he sent me a webcam video of himself that very last night, and he smiled and said ‘I guess you really don’t love me. I’m killing myself. I hope you’re happy now, and I love you always.’ And then…”
 
I couldn’t breathe, so I stopped and closed my eyes. “And then he was gone.”
 
I could hear Daniel crying on the other side. “It’s not your fault,” he was saying over and over again. “Jen, it’s not your fault.”
 
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t save him.”
 
He was saying something else, but I hung up. I got up, stumbled to the bathroom and cried myself to exhaustion.
 
I love you, Lucien. I love you so much. I want to die too.
 
***
 
So I placed that number on my body so I can remind myself everyday that somebody fucking killed himself because of me.
 
Oh, Lucien.
 
It hurts too much to remember you.
 
It’s like a gaping hole in the middle of my chest, and now I can’t love anybody anymore, not even myself.
 
You were the only one keeping me alive, urging on my will to live.
 
Now you’re dead, and bit by bit, piece by piece, I’m drifting away until one day, I’ll disappear as well.
 
Nothing is the same anymore.
 
I miss the girl I used to be. The girl with the sunny smile and the mischievous eyes, the the smirk on her lips. Now I’m just sad, sad, sad and I feel like I’m drowning but there’s no one to help me.
 
And there’s boy after boy, holding out their hands and offering their love. “Let me help you,” they say. “I will heal you. I will love you. I will never leave you.” 
 
But I can’t. Eventually all this madness will get to you too, and I will never forgive myself if somebody else kills himself because of me.
 
I don’t like feeling things. I used to be so intense and passionate. When I loved somebody, I would write him poems and paint him portraits and love him with every single fiber of my being. 
 
But then, after you…
 
Now I don’t like feeling anything. I carry everything inside me, and they hold me down like weights, pulling me deeper and deeper into the ocean of my sadness.
 
So now I don’t feel sad.
 
I don’t feel angry.
 
I don’t feel anything at all.
 
And to guard my heart, to keep my sanity, this is how I have to be until the end.
 
***
 
It’s been a few years now, and I can finally feel his ghost fading away. Just like the scars on my hip, where I used to cut my skin to ribbons, right over the tattoo. The criss-crossed lines I’ve made are almost invisible now, and the number 13 is stark and red, bright and almost glowing against my skin again.
 
I can’t…don’t…know how to love people again. 
 
It’s like one day, I lost him…and my heart just stopped working.
 
Can’t you see? I’m empty, so empty. I’m so hollow that a feather could knock me down. 
 
I can offer you my body, but I can never give you my heart.
 
***
 
It’s not like I didn’t try. Christian was next. Beautiful Christian, who was also pale and tall and dark haired and grey-eyed — yes, like Lucien – he tried to make him love me.
 
But I was a lost cause, so he started to hit me, punish me by biting hard on my flesh until bruises bloomed on my skin. And I would laugh while he hurt me, even though I could see the tears of frustration in his eyes. I would pull him on top of me and he would kiss me hard, his fingers digging into my neck, bruising my lips, and he would whisper that hurting me was the only time he could make me feel anything.
 
Eventually, he left me also. Or, shall we say, I pushed him away. 
 
“It’s hard to compete with a lost lover’s ghost,” he said. We were on the bed, I was lying flat on my back and his hands were wrapped around my throat, squeezing softly. I stared up at him, a smile playing on my lips.
 
“Be mine,” he whispered.
 
“Never,” I answered.
 
Now that I realize it, that day fell on the 13th, too.
 
***
 
I reread each and every entry on my blog and was surprised at how fluid and transient my past few years have been. I have transformed from an indifferent, sarcastic and cynical part-time psychopath to a sad and broken girl scared of dying.
 
I went from being a girl in black, to being a girl in pale dresses, with her arms and neck decorated with bruises.
 
Lucien happened, then Christian happened. They broke me, they bruised not only my body, but also my soul. All my emotions have slowly evaporated until all that was left is the shell that I now am.
 
But slowly, I’ve been healing. I need to nurse my wounds and take care of myself. I still flinch when someone touches me. I still feel defensive when boys look at me. And I’m still so numb that I don’t know when my laughter will come back.
 
Don’t worry about me, though.
 
Sooner or later, I’ll eventually be myself again. 
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